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Landlord Rights in Virginia

The state of Virginia outlines its laws around property rentals in the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA) which covers state-specific guidelines for tenants and landlords. This article will investigate Virginia’s landlord laws and outline their rights and responsibilities. We will also cover the processes and procedures for landlords when their rights are violated.

Although Virginia is considered a landlord-friendly state, landlords must adhere to specific state and federal laws when renting to tenants. Landlords who do not comply with and fulfill their legal responsibilities may face costly tenancy disputes and hefty penalties or fines.

What Are Landlord's Rights and Responsibilities?

When you decide to purchase property for rental units, it is crucial to understand all of the laws and regulations surrounding this business practice in your state. A lack of knowledge on the subject can lead to major issues down the road when you are forced to work through tenant disputes, regulatory problems, and evictions.

Virginia Landlord Rights

A landlord in Virginia has a legal right to collect rent payments. Furthermore, they can collect security deposits that can be used as payments for repairs or unpaid bills in certain situations. It is also within a landlord’s right in Virginia to terminate the tenancy agreement if a tenant is unwilling to comply with regulations or pay the agreed rent on time.

Notably, a landlord may seek legal redress in court when the tenant does not answer the claims. A landlord may solve the dispute through settlement in the presence of an attorney or a court of law. Ensure that all communications between tenants and the state are documented physically or digitally to keep yourself covered.

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA) provides landlords with the rights to;

– Be notified whenever a tenant wants to move out of the property

– Collect a security deposit whenever a new tenant moves in

– Receive the agreed-upon rent and apply a fee on late payments

– Cover tenant damages and unpaid dues using the security deposit

– Be notified whenever a tenant wishes to make changes to the property

Virginia Landlord Responsibilities

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA) further provide for things that a landlord in Virginia is obliged to do. They should offer a rental property in good condition that complies with housing regulations and is liveable. In addition, they must promptly respond to tenants’ damage complaints and repair requests that are within reason. Where a landlord doesn’t comply with their responsibilities, a tenant may terminate the tenancy agreement or seek legal redress, although this process does take some time.

Other responsibilities include;

– Following the proper procedure during tenant eviction

– Giving formal notice to tenants when making changes to the rental agreement

– Providing a copy of the tenancy agreement to the tenant

– Ensuring the property meets state and municipal building, health, and safety standards

– Abiding by tenancy rules and other rules outlined in the lease agreement

– Holding the security deposit in a safe account unless used to repair tenant damages

Avoiding Legal Issues

If you want to avoid legal troubles and the wasted time, money, and energy that come with them, it is necessary to be aware of the common ways that landlords find themselves in hot water with the state government or courts.

1. Follow State Rental Regulations

To increase the rent of your unit or evict a tenant, ensure that you comply with the Virginia state rules and procedures under the Virginia Tenancy Act. Stay up to date on additions and revisions to this act and tenancy laws in the state to ensure that you are always in the know.  Virginia’s tenancy rules can include more details on termination and nonpayment of rent and other rent rules.

2. Do Not Retaliate Against Tenants

In Virginia, it is a prosecutable offense for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant who raises the alarm on housing concerns and exercises their legal rights. Instead of retaliations, keep a proper paper trail on all repairs you do, communications, and other important facts so that you are never in a situation where you cannot prove your due diligence and rule-abiding.

3. Include Legal Disclosures

Virginia law requires landlords to disclose certain information to tenants on lease agreements. Landlords should disclose things like visible evidence of mold, damage, or malfunctioning appliances. Additionally, the US federal laws on tenancy have rules regarding lead-based paint on the property. Ignorance of laws like these and failing to disclose key property characteristics can warrant a hefty fine.

4. Changing Rent Pricing

No law in Virginia puts a cap on how much landlords can charge for rent, many landlords set their rent prices in accordance with other similar properties in the area and the current state of the market. There is, however, a market rate that guides how much rent is supposed to be charged in certain areas. 

It is important to know that a landlord may not raise the rent in the middle of the lease period. Once it is agreed upon in the lease, the rent is set until the agreement is finished, which is usually one year. Landlords must wait until the end of the lease and also give prior notice before renewal. The written notice to the tenant must be received 30 days before the lease period is set to expire.

5. Handling Security Deposits

A security deposit is money a landlord requires to keep cover the cost of any damages when the tenant is moving out. The amount may also be used for a breach of the lease agreement, broken appliances, or unpaid rent or utilities. Virginia law is very clear on how a landlord may use the security deposit, it is crucial to know that landlords may not demand a security deposit that is more than two months rent.

The security deposit does not count as a rent payment. The security deposit refers to the tenant’s money placed as security of rental property or to cover dues. This means they should receive their money back if there are no dues. Virginia law outlines how and when tenants can expect this deposit back once they move out. 

Once the tenant moves out of the property, the landlord has 72 hours to inspect the property for damages. The tenant may officially request to be present during the inspection. The landlord is obliged to deduct the cost of damages and refund the remaining or total balance of the deposit within 45 days after the tenant has left.

6. Property Maintenance

Both the landlord and the tenant have their fair share of responsibilities for the maintenance of the residence. It is, however, the responsibility of the landlord to maintain the unit’s core features and infrastructure. The landlord ensures essential things like hot and cold water are running, leaks are not present, mold is not growing, and appliances are functioning. They are also responsible for providing the proper maintenance and repairs promptly.

7. Navigating Evictions

Virginia law does not allow landlords to handle any tenant’s eviction. That is a function to be solely determined by the courts. Through this process, the landlord will receive a court order directing the tenant to leave the property. The landlord, therefore, may not evict or cut off a tent from essential services.

It is crucial to navigate this process by following the set guidelines. Failure to do so can increase the time it takes to complete the eviction and even reward damages to the tenant if you have infringed on their rights or safety.

When landlords want to access a tenant’s unit, they must provide a minimum notice of 24 hours except for cases of emergency in which the notice period does not apply.

Conclusion

If you would like to learn more about landlord rights in Virginia, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development maintains a website that is rich with resources on Virginia’s landlord laws and housing regulations. If you do not live in Virginia or operate rental properties in other states, check the other applicable states’ resources, as laws can vary greatly from state to state.

Additionally, check out the state housing agencies for credible legal facts on housing. Your real estate agent and attorney are also critical resources you may leverage for advice and information. Landlords who adhere strictly to the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA) are not likely to have any major legal issues. Remember, prevention is always better and cheaper than having to solve an active issue!

Contact our team today if you are looking to purchase an investment property in coastal Virginia or our other areas of operation. Our team of experts can guide you through the process of buying a single-family, multi-family, or apartment property and save you time and money.

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